Alexi McCammond May 20, 2017
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China killed or imprisoned CIA sources to stop US spying

Mark Schiefelbein / AP

A new NYT report details how the Chinese government thwarted the CIA's intelligence gathering operations by killing or imprisoning 18 to 20 CIA spies or sources over a two-year period starting in 2010.

The details: "From the final weeks of 2010 through the end of 2012, according to former American officials, the Chinese killed at least a dozen of the C.I.A.'s sources. According to three of the officials, one was shot in front of his colleagues in the courtyard of a government building — a message to others who might have been working for the C.I.A."

Why it matters: This shows the sophistication of the Chinese government's spy services (similar to Russia) and how successful China is at squashing the United States' spying efforts. Furthermore, it demonstrates how difficult it continues to be for the US to carry out counterespionage investigations in foreign nations — and the CIA views its spying efforts in China one of its top priorities.